Research doesn’t begin and end in a laboratory

May 02, 2018

The Lowitja health institution is working towards providing health services to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders.

Research doesn’t begin and end in a laboratory

At the Lowitja Institute Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health CRC we focus on maximising the positive impact of the research we fund through knowledge translation activities. These activities continue the engagement between communities, policymakers and researchers to understand and further that impact.

The Better Genetic Health Services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People (BIG) project is an example of taking medical and laboratory-based science and service provision and applying it in ways that deliver a real benefit for Australia’s First Peoples.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are under-represented in genetic health services despite having higher prevalence of a number of genetically determined conditions. For example, the prevalence of Machado Joseph Disease (MJD) is estimated to be 100 times greater in affected Aboriginal communities of the Top End than anywhere else in the world. Working alongside the BIG project, the Anindilyakwa people of the Groote Eylandt Archipelago have driven research to reduce the devastating impact of MJD on their families and community. The project — developing a physical activity program for Aboriginal families with MJD living in

The Top End of Australia — will develop an evidence-informed physical activity program for individuals and families with MJD.

The BIG project will develop and trial strategies to strengthen capacity for the provision of culturally safe genetic health services, and identify gaps in the journey taken by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people engaging with genetic health services.  

Both of these projects, initiated and led by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, create a partnership between western science, Indigenous knowledges and local solutions to improve the health and wellbeing of Australia’s First Peoples.

Cherese Sonkkila


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